Friday, March 21, 2008

your name here

no matter where we go these days we see signs - and I mean signs - of the corporatization and commercialization of our culture. I don't know about you, but I find this a disturbing trend. but most of the time there's not much I can do about it.

in cleveland we have two recent examples of sporting spaces being renamed after receiving a healthy corporate contribution or a transfer of ownership. in 2005 when dan gilbert bought the cleveland cavaliers he renamed the gund arena, where the cavs play, to "the quicken loans arena" after his online lending company. of course, he forked over the bucks and had the right to rename the space anything he wished. personally, I find the name and sign tacky, but that's another issue.

then earlier this year peter b. lewis, a local billionaire and philanthropist, bought the naming rights to "jacobs field," home of the cleveland indians. the ballpark is now "progressive field," I actually like the new name; after all, it's not being called "the progressive insurance company field." peter b. lewis is an interesting guy and fairly progressive from what I've heard. I'm hoping that now that he is invested in the ballteam, maybe he can use some of his civic clout to help us get rid of the offensive chief wahoo mascot, but that too is another issue.

when judy norsigian was in town recently she brought to my attention another example of the commercialization of our world. the building is a children's emergency and trauma center and the corporation is a clothing company which routinely sells it's products with highly sexualized and provocative advertisements. however, this time there is something we can do about it. below is the text from an email that judy forwarded from the campaign for a commercial-free childhood. please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the issue and if you are offended as I am, please act. thanks!

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio is planning to rename its emergency room The Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center in exchange for a $10 million donation. These naming rights will entwine an institution of healing with a company whose advertising is notorious for undermining children's wellbeing and will promote the exploitive Abercrombie brand to children in a hospital setting.

On Tuesday, March 11, CCFC sent a letter signed by many of the country's leading advocates for children's health to the hospital urging them to rescind the naming rights. Our letter has generated national attention with stories in the Associated Press and New York Times.

Now we need your help. Please tell Nationwide Children's Hospital not to sell naming rights to Abercrombie & Fitch and forward this message to family and friends.

You can read more about Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Abercrombie & Fitch at: Click the link on the right under “Take Action” to send your own email.

today I'd like to honor an important, but little known figure in the annals of social activism and women's history, barbara deming (1917-1984) along with being an activist, barbara was a poet and short-story writer.

The longer we listen to one another - with real attention - the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.

I think the only choice that will enable us to hold to our vision. . . is one that abandons the concept of naming enemies and adopts a concept familiar to the nonviolent tradition: naming behavior that is oppressive.

photos: bp bridge, chicago; 'the q,' cleveland


Steve said...

I'm totally with you on this. I hate the corporatization (is that a word?) of everything. We should name public facilities after important social and political leaders, not just whoever (or whatever) pays the most money.

Wedded to this tendency is a growing trend toward overbuilding public facilities, especially sports arenas. Sports teams need to learn to make do with what they have, rather than moaning for a new publicly-funded stadium every ten years.

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

And then, of course, people walk around with bags sporting the name of the venue and lo and behold - we are all walking ads - paying for the privilege of playing sandwich-board.
The Barbara Deming quotes are wonderful. Thanks.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

It never bothered me that college campus buildings were named after distinguished alumni or leading philanthropists, but now having names of corporations on them is horrible. However, I must say it's mildly amusing that Candlestick Park's naming rights went to and it's now Monster Park which sounds sort of intriguing.

Barbara said...

This makes me even more appreciate my Temple Micah's firm policy of no plaques, no pews named for anyone, no personal recognition that puts someone above the rest. It's a relief to know you can't buy your fame, even to the tune of a million dollars. (And, yes, they have turned down such gifts that come with strings attached!)

TheElementary said...

Again, you've come through with a thoughtful piece. It's definitely something to think about.
I am not sure if this blogger still updates but here's a post which I loved and thought made some sense.
He writes about how certain tribes were afraid of having their image copied, and he likens that to advertising.
Your posts always give me pause for thought.

Colette Amelia said...

you have your finger on the pulse! I love the wisdom of the Barbara Demming words!

Did you know that your backyard looks almost identical to mine? It needs a fence where the neighbour's garage is.

Happy Easter

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mouse (aka kimy) said...

steve - i have always thought naming buildings & public facilities after important social, literary, and (even) political figures would be the way to go!

lee - I renewed my acquaintance with deming's work recently while rereading the book 'reweaving the web of life: feminism and nonviolence' - tragic that she died so young.

jt - monster park does have a very intriguing flair

barbara - kudos to temple micah!

elem - thankx. the outerlife blog is very stimulating! it does look like he and his muse are taking a break

ca - michael emailed me after seeing the picture of the prayer flags in my backyard and said at first he thought I posted a picture of your backyard! but of course. kindred spirits!

one last thing, deleted comment is another one of those annoying spam here here comments that aren't comments- I have a question for those of you that do word verification: does putting up that extra hoop protect your blog from these annoying 'comments'?

Reya Mellicker said...

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio is planning to rename its emergency room The Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center in exchange for a $10 million donation.

If it wasn't so sad, it would actually be funny. This is how it is at the end of the empire.

Anonymous said...

i totally signed that children's hospital petition. what utter ridiculosity! thanks for this important post. oxox